Congratulations to Informatics grad student, Ellie Harmon on passing her advancement to candidacy, with her work entitled, “Mobile ICTs as Ordinary Technologies: Stories and Experiences”.
“Though smartphones are increasingly commonplace and seemingly ordinary objects for many Americans, concerns about their recent and rapid proliferation abound. Far from the promises of UbiComp visionaries, even as smartphones become pervasive, they fail to fade away as invisible or unremarkable technologies. Instead, as noted by Paul Dourish & Gennevieve Bell, the ubiquitous computing of the present is “messy” and “contested” [Dourish & Bell 2011]. Mimi Ito and Daisuke Okabe have pointed to the emergence of new “technosocial situations” alongside the integration of mobile phones into social life, noting that new practices are simultaneously celebrated and criticized [Ito & Okabe 2005]. Heather Horst and Daniel Miller call out the “rapid” spread of cell phones, as well as the “dynamic” nature of the phenomenon as it shifts and evolves over the course of mere “days and months” [Horscht & Miller 2007].
It is this instability, and the unsettled nature of the smartphone experience that I explore in my research. I take a practice-based approach, asking how this device is used, integrated, and negotiated within the context of ordinary life. In this talk I will first present an analysis of the stories about the smartphone that circulate in popular media. I highlight two common tropes: one calling for increased technological integration, the other urging individuals to dis-integrate the smartphone from daily life. I examine the idealized subject positions of these two tropes and show how both simplistic stories call on the same overarching values to compel opposing individual actions. I then reflect on the conflicts experienced by individuals when they try to align and account for their own actions in relation to these multiple contradictory narratives. In the second half of the talk I present a more open-ended discussion of my ongoing and future fieldwork with families in southern California and hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Building from the stories identified in the media analysis, my fieldwork examines the shifting experiences of subjectivity, self & society, and time & place in the context of individual engagements with personal mobile ICTs.”
Committee: Melissa Mazmanian (chair), Kavita Philip, Paul Dourish, Bill Maurer, Geof Bowker